In Israel’s vibrant food culture, Polish food has long represented everything from which diners are fleeing. Though Polish food was the home cooking of many of the nation’s immigrant families, it calls to mind bland soups and mysterious, goopy pastes. But some food lovers are trying to reclaim the traditional dishes, celebrating the first ever Polish Food Week in Israel recently.
The effort is led largely by Yossi Vardi, a billionaire tech entrepreneur from Tel Aviv who grew up in a Polish immigrant household. According to Tablet magazine, Vardi called his mother “a pioneer of biotechnology” for her ability to “turn any organic matter into chopped liver.” He added that his mother’s ability to repurpose leftovers was an asset of the food style.
“The Polish cuisine is called a cuisine, but really it’s a lab for innovation,” he said.
Another Polish-Israeli cook emphasized the resourcefulness of Polish cooking, saying his recipes came from partisans who fought the Nazis, and had to cook with scraps.
This mentality is evident in the motto of the Order of the Kishka, Vardi’s informal group dedicated to promoting Polish food, including its namesake beef intestine sausage: “Kishka is like the Internet: a broadband that is filled with unidentified but highly addictive things that can destroy your health.”
Other dishes served at Polish food events included cholent (the traditional Sabbath stew) and griebenes (crispy chicken skin with fried onions).
Events also included special meals from visiting polish chefs, lectures, a recreation of a Polish Jewish feast from 1893, and vodka tastings.